The SEGA Generation

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by EternalMadness1997, Mar 18, 2018.

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  1. Threadmarks: The Sega-Sony Hardware System

    EternalMadness1997 Oh Lawdy Lawdy Lawd

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    (Wooh, finally got this ready enough to post! Sorry it took so long. This is my timeline about "WI Sega & Sony partnered up", based on what we know about their chance to partner with Sony. Me and Nivek have been working on this for a time behind the scenes, and we estimated the POD but of course there is no official confirmation on it yet afaik.)

    Spring, 1993

    San Fransisco, California, Spring of 1993. It was the headquarters of Sega of America, North American branch of the gaming corporation known as Sega, when a partnership that would go down in gaming history was made. It is difficult to remember what weather it was on that fateful day, but what is easy to remember was when Tom Kalinske, the man heading Sega's American branch as well as the man responsible for getting the Genesis - Mega Drive outside of North America - was informed that a small group of important people had arrived to visit him. As he soon found out, these were not just any people from the Japanese company known as Sony, but these men entering his office were Michael "Mickey" Schulhof and Olaf Olafsson - President of Sony America & the President of Sony Electronic Publishing respectively. Kalinske, the man who had definitely put Sega's name on the map and rose to the challenge of dethroning Nintendo, perhaps would have only foreseen this chance meeting later on in hindsight, as they said to him that day:

    "Tom, we really don't like Nintendo. You don't like Nintendo. We have this little studio down in Santa Monica working on video games, we don't know what to do with it, we'd like Sega's help in training our guys. And we think the optical disc will be the best format."

    That's when the reason for this meeting became clear, and the memories of the June 1991 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) came coming back to Kalinske.

    Indeed, it did all start with Nintendo. Sony was very eager that fateful day to announce it's partnership with Nintendo had given birth to the 'PlayStation', a SNES-Compatible CD-rom & cartridge console, the long awaited 'SNES-CD' add-on. Kalinske would have been concerned about things, had the very next day not involved Nintendo announcing it's partnership with Philips to produce games for the CD-I instead. It didn't take a genius to understand that while attempts had been made to heal the rift between Nintendo and Sony, in the end all of it proved to be for nought, and by the time these two men of Sony arrived in Kalinske's office any semblance of Nintendo and Sony working together had long since passed.

    Now, here it was. Sega's chance to deliver a harsh dose of 'karma' to Nintendo in the form of partnering with their own would-have-been ally, arriving right to Kalinske's doorstep. It was the perfect opportunity.

    "I agree" Kalinske spoke with a nod, "In fact, now that you mention, there's this studio called Digital Pictures, I definitely think our partnership could help them out with financing."

    From the start the two companies were in fact agreed on one thing - whatever the next platform was, it had to use optical discs. Luckily, Sega already had a CD-ROM attachment for the Genesis, the Sega CD (or Mega CD). Kalinske knew by 1993 - it was released in '91 - that it wasn't quite adequate, but it at least taught them how to make games for the format.

    With both sides in agreement, it didnt' take very long for some of Sony's workers alongside Sega of America's engineers to work with specs for what their future optical-based hardware system would be. With these specs completed, the next step for Olafsson, Schulhof and Kalinske was to head off to Japan and meet with Sony's Ken Kutaragi. His exact words can't precisely be known, but they are known to have gone something such as this:

    "I believe this a great idea! Of course though, we all lose money on hardware. However, if we make and market a single system, the Sega-Sony hardware system if you will, whatever loss we make, we split that loss!"

    Kalinske couldn't agree more with the idea of this partnership, in some ways it seemed almost too good to be true. He wasted very little time in setting a meeting up with his superior Hayao Nakayama and the board of Sega Japan with the full hope that he would see things his way and agree to the partnership with Sony.

    Hayao Nakayama had been the head of Sega since roughly 1984, far back in the SG-1000 II era, a time long gone by. The attitude within the boardroom of Sega's Japanese branch had been defined by an increasing desire to dominate more in the home country, since ever since the earliest days of Sega's time in the home console market their American and European branches had always out performed the Japanese branch, save for perhaps Arcades. Perhaps this desire had, or was beginning to, form into a bit of arrogance or envy towards their regional divisions, and of course Hayao Nakayama was always under pressure from the other members of the boards, some of which were largely against Sega of America's ideas. However, that did not by any means guarantee what the answer was going to be when Kalinske got his proposal through to Nakayama and the board. Speaking of which, when it was proposed to the board, many of them were more than eager to dismiss it as incompetent if not also outright ridiculous and pressured Nakayama to make the same call. However, what he ultimately said to Kalinske ultimately proved to be quite different from what would have likely been expected:

    "I'm going to first say" he said, "That I personally am highly doubtful of Sony's hardware making abilities, let alone whatever software abilities they have. However, in light of the success that your branch of Sega has generated and your previous history, I am willing to give Sony a chance to perhaps prove us wrong about them."

    His response was not quite what Kalinske had hoped for, but was still enough to make him metaphorically wipe sweat off from his brow with a sigh of relief, for a moment there it seemed like everything he worked for was about to go down the drain. Nakayama's decision did not sit well with members of the board however, and indeed some of them actually resigned from their positions because of it.

    While at the time it was too early to tell, but little did they know the course of gaming history had been changed forever even with that half-hearted yes.

    The next step however, was now on Nakayama's part. He knew that he was going to have to negotiate some sort of deal with Norio Ohga, the infamous head of Sony, if he was going to actually follow through on having any sort of yes. Perhaps, in fact, his urge to reject his answer and listen to what the Japanese board was telling him was from remembering the root cause of what made Nintendo fall out with Sony - liscencing disagreements. He had absolutely no intention of giving Sony anything less than equal in any agreement. Once he was in his office and out of the boardroom, he didn't hesitate at all to pick up his phone and place a call of the upmost importance:

    "Hello" he said with as much a casual tone of voice he could muster as he phoned Sony's offices, still highly skeptical of doing this, "This is Hayao Nakayama, President of Sega, I'd like to schedule a meeting with Ogha-san."

    Mr. Ohga, the head of the Sony corporation as a whole and one of Japan's finest, couldn't help but be surprised to hear that Hayao Nakayama of all people wanted to schedule a meeting with him. He had an idea of what it was about, in fact he was already aware of the ongoing scheme by the time Nakayama had called.

    "Ah, yes" Ohga responded once he was on the phone with his potential future business partner, the two of them setting up the date of this meeting, "That would be a perfect date for this meeeting, I look forward to discussing this further with you in person, Nakayama-san."

    As Norio put down his phone and resumed his usual work, he had the future in mind. Gaming was never something that he, as head of Sony, thought highly of. In fact, Sony practically looked down upon it as nothing more than a fad. However, the incident with Nintendo just two years prior had forced his hand, he had thought of trying reconcile with Yamauchi, but now he was more than decided that Nintendo's fate as his rival head been more than sealed by this point. Besides, the prototypes of the PlayStation had already been made. It was either partnering with Sega or going it alone. Ohga didn't take the other hardware producers seriously enough to even consider them as a partnership option, some moreso than others. For now, all he had to do was place a note on his calender for the meeting next week, and wait for the day to come.

    This meeting, taking place the next Wednesday, would prove to be the moment of truth for all that Kalinske, Olaffson, Kutaragi and Schulof had worked on together thus far. Everything hinged on whatever Nakayama and Ohga could manage to agree to. The two of them went over the Sega-Sony Hardware system proposal and discussed the entire idea for what felt like hours at Sony's corporate offices in Tokyo. However, the true topic the two desired to discuss was the inevitable issue of how the licensing of this deal would be handled, and how deep that software development would go between the two corporations as well. The two executives both got a bit tense once this topic was finally reached, Nakayama preparing for an outrageous demand, while Ohga remembering the stress that dealing with Yamauchi had caused him. Luckily for the two of them, however, the lessons learned from Sony's fall out with Nintendo helped to perfect the agreement between the companies. The agreement that Nakayama and Ohga had negotiated on, which took the majority of the meeting for them to actually agree on, was crafted with the idea of giving both companies a fair amount of control over the software than was absolutely fair and necessary. Ohga agreed that Sony would share strictly equal control with Sega on the subject of the software licensing, though Sega would retain full control over first party & second party software including it's franchises, with the hardware agreements being made based on what the American teams & Kutaragi had agreed upon and set up for them. Finishing their long talk, they shook hands and gave each other the traditional bow of respect before taking their leaves, business had been concluding and the fate of the industry, had been decided.​


     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
  2. Nivek Resident Videogame Expert

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
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    Santa Marta,Magdalena,West Venezuela
    Well, i'm more have been a silent partner/editor on this one, nice you finished and posted your OP, good luck with your timeline, this was a nice begin with a bang.
     
  3. Unknown Member

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    Corpus Christi, TX
    Wonder what the pop culture effects of TTL will be...
     
  4. Threadmarks: Saturn Brewing [1993]

    EternalMadness1997 Oh Lawdy Lawdy Lawd

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    (So, how quickly was it decided that Sega and Sony were going to be making the successor to the Genesis?)

    Tom Kalinske - "Actually pretty quickly, all things considered. There were some ideas, like one console by Sega and one by Sega & Sony, and even a second add-on for the Genesis, but with Sega wanting something out by next year the only way to really make it happen is if we focused on just one, single, Sega-Sony console. Of course, we all know now what it ultimately became to be."

    (How much of the PlayStation made it into the Saturn?)

    Tom Kalinske - "Pretty much everything, just about. A lot of what Ken had worked on went into it, even his sound chip - though that did cause us to lose our partnership with Yamaha. A lot of the specs that we agreed on back in 1993 were what we ultimately went with - save for only a few specifics."

    (Were there any complications with it's development?)

    Tom Kalinske - "Yes, of course. There's bound to be all sorts of complications with these sorts of things, and this was no exception. Nakayama and the board in Japan were always underestimating Sony, and Sony's board weren't even confidence in video games as a potential market. It all seems ridiculous now, but back then looking back I can sort of see why they thought what they did. Sega's board gave us the most trouble though, definitely the most pressure came from Sega's end. They didn't like having to lose Yamaha to Nintendo at the CES that year, and were concerned with Sony having too much control over the console's production. They deflected the idea of a Game Gear successor proposed by Kutaragi, Project Pluto, quite quickly just around the same time we cancelled the Sega VR. Almost as if to appease them, it was Sega's console design that got agreed upon rather than Sony's. But all in all, the Saturn effectively is the PlayStation on the inside."

    (How was the software development going at the time?)


    Tom Kalinske - "It went together rather well. Digital Pictures and Sony Imagesoft made very good content together. The Sega CD's sales actually picked up a little bit once we had the extra content on it. Though of course the ports of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 sold the most, alongside Sonic the Hedgehog CD. The former two had also been developed in conjunction with Sony's teams since the developers in Japan were working on finishing up the latter."
    - Tom Kalinske, 2012 interview with Sega Retro

    "Sonic the Hedgehog was new but rapidly growing back then" said Yuji Naka in a 2011 interview with IGN for Sonic the Hedgehog: The Challenger in Blue, "Of course, it was more popular in the west and in Europe than it was in Japan, though then again so was Sega at the time. There was not one but two animated tevelision series running alongside each other, both of which have pretty stable followings today - one though more than the other. We also had two ongoing comic series as well, one for the United Kingdom and one for the United States. It was honestly more than we could have hoped, and I was quite proud to have created such a cultural icon, one that brought Sega from being a distant underdog into a proper opponent for Nintendo." - excerpt from Sonic Retro.

    "After the initial surprise of the announcement that Summer wore off", Satoru Iwata recalled in a 2009 interview with Game Informer, "For the most part it was business as usual on all fronts of Nintendo. I can imagine Yamauchi-san wanted tabs kept on Sega and Sony to the best of his ability, but for me my duty was largely to just stay informed and keep busines running smoothly. We had much work to get done. The Super Famicom was doing well even if our rival [Sega] remained strong in places like Europe and Brazil. We still had Japan and a substantial share in America. Things were looking rather decent for us at the time."





    "1993 was a strong year for the gaming industry, even we didn't know it yet. Doom came out later in the year and became a major cultural hit and sparked a lot of controversy over the rating system, Atari came back onto the scene, the 3DO entered the ring, NEC was leaving, and of course a lot of behind the scenes deals and partnerships were being announced, like Nintendo and Yamaha, Sega and Sony, and we got to see what ultimately became of Nintendo's entire scandal with Philips, who were just beginning to shift their marketing strategies for the CD-I. At least Nintendo made Star Fox though, to deal with the increasing popularity of Sonic. Of course, things that had their roots in 1993 were only going to make the industry twist and turn to an almost unimagineable direction later on down the road." - ScrewAttack, The History of Video Gaming, 2015.

     
  5. Threadmarks: The Saturn, The Ratings and The Drama [1993 - 1994]

    EternalMadness1997 Oh Lawdy Lawdy Lawd

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    (Sorry this couldn't be posted yesterday, the site was down. Shame too, it was the anniversary of when Sega went third party! But oh well, it's up now and that's all that matters.)


    It's name was Project Saturn, and it was what Sega was working on as the great sequel to the Mega Drive. In some circles it was called the 'Giga Drive', though that name was also somewhat confusingly applied to something else as well. There were also other scrapped plans as well, such as the shortly lived separate console plan and the add-on plan. The Saturn's planning having been started briefly before Kalinske's fateful meeting with Sony had happened, though only after everything had been finalized with Sony did the work really start. From the very beginning Kalinske knew that he was walking with thin ice, the words Nakayama said proving that quite clearly. Whatever came of the partnership had to be a financial success. Not very long after the deal with Sony had been decided on and established, Project Saturn began developing into a solid idea.

    For the most part, the specs that Ken Kutaragi had developed at the very beginning of the Sega-Sony Hardware System's planning were what was laid out on the table with the intention of using in the upcoming system. Very early on, Sega's partner Yamaha left their side once Sega had to settle for using Sony's own sound chip instead. This ultimately led to Yamauchi getting a meeting with Yamaha instead, leading to them getting the sound chip instead.

    "Yamauchi-san was very grateful for the deal with Yamaha", then head of Nintendo America Minoru Arakawa recalled in a 2001 interview with Gamespot, "For Nintendo, it was a very joyous little adventure, and a good laugh as well. Sega's loss, was Nintendo's gain."

    For Sega however, this was something of a bad sign. The board of directors for Sega Japan were not pleased with losing Yamaha to Nintendo and constantly worried about Sony having too much creative control over the design of the console - much to Ken Kutaragi's frustration at the time. In the end, it was decided that while the internal specs were adequate, the exterior had to be designed by Sega's own teams in order for Nakayama and the board to approve of it.

    "They wouldn't shut up about it" Ken Kutaragi told IGN in a 2007 interview, "Sega of Japan's board were comparable to a broken record that would not stop. They were constantly bugging me and the rest of the team about the design of the project and it's specifications. At times it made me feel Sony would have been better off going it alone just to spare us of the nagging. I can not count how many times we revised and looked over the specs for the Saturn at their behest."

    "Yes, I would most definitely say the next part of the process was the corporate intrigue, so to speak" Kalinske said in the same Interview, "I was very confident in the specs Sony was developing, but it was clear from Day One that we were going to be struggling with this severe underestimation of Sony and even my own capabilities in getting this to be a success. Luckily for us all, their tune was able to change quite a bit in the end. But at the time, it was difficult to deal with. I feel like it was the relative success with software that ultimately kept the deal from falling apart at the seams, alongside the timing. The board wanting something out by 1994, and by the time work started on it, they would miss that deadline if they pulled the plug, and they would have had to start over from scratch."

    The development of Project Saturn, which ultimately kept it's project name and became the Sega-Sony Saturn, went on with it's difficult, nigh infamous, process throughout both 1993 and 1994. During this time, Sega had no choice but to continue marketing the Mega CD & Mega Drive against Nintendo's Super Famicom, 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, and Atari's Jaguar. As typical, they remained the dominant force in Europe and Brazil, though Japan was practically Nintendo's empire and North America was a battleground for virtually everyone - though mostly Sega and Nintendo.

    Luckily for Sega, the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer's launch in October 1993 was quite botched up. It received a lot of attention as part of the press and it's "multimedia wave", making it seem like it was all but promised to become the next big system and a commercial success. However, many of the games promised for it in the Summer 1993 CES were pushed for 1994 instead, leaving only Crash n' Burn available at launch. In addition to that, Panasonic failed to manufacture a good enough amount of units and left stories with mostly either only one or two units available in such a crucial time. Not to mention the near outrageously high price, US$699.99, for the system. Trip Hawkins however remained unabated by this practically horrid launch, his idealism about his system not ending for anything, and the advertisements proclaiming Sega and Nintendo to be "baby toys" still persisted.

    Watching the 3DO's launch quite ironically crash and burn before him, Kalinske couldn't help but think back to the day before this all started when he himself was offered the chance to have Sega manufacture the 3DO, but he turned the offer down.
    "Dodged a bullet with that one" was all he said to himself, shaking his head.

    In addition, Kalinske kept his eye on Atari and their Jaguar as well, that '64-bit' system that told it's audience to 'Do the Math'. It had a more competitive US$249.99 price at it's launch in November, though was only being introduced in 1993 for test marketing purposes, it would not see nation wide availability until early 1994. Regardless, while the launch was more competent, Atari's name had long ago been ruined during the 1980's, and it lacked the third party support that Sega, Nintendo and even 3DO had. Kalinske was confident that their bite was not nearly as powerful as their bark, even if it was Tramiel's son Sam calling the shots.

    Then again, it did seem as though Atari didn't have enough stock after they sold out in New York and California, and so their launch had been botched up quite badly as well. It would be quite a while before any more sales for the Jaguar would even be heard of.
    By the time 1994 was rolling around and both the newcomer and semi-forgotten veteran were settled in the market, most of the Saturn had been relatively planned out. A lot of the problems stemmed from the struggle to ensure the system was able to emulate arcade games and delive the arcade experience in the home - as was Sega's primary goal & slogan, as well as not being too difficult for developers to work with which was something the teams from Sony were concerned about. In addition, it had to run a decent RPG game, as Sega of Japan's ulterior motive was finally dislodging Nintendo from the Japanese markets and RPG games were immensely popular to Japanese gamers.

    These requirements ultimately led to Sega and Sony's hardware development teams having to work together on creating on the correct GPU to satisfy Sega's needs and desires. One that could perfectly replicate the experience of the arcades while also create 3D graphics and environments. As Ken Kutaragi would inform Game Informer years after the fact, in 2007, "It was no easy task to do in such a short time, but thanks to the groundwork already laid down before us, it was largely just a few tweaks to the original GPU specs I had designed, largely with assistance from some of Sega's top engineers."

    The finalized specs of the Saturn, settled on after a long and tenuous period for all sides:
    ⦁ Media: CD-ROM & Cartridge
    ⦁ CPU:
    ⦁ LSI LR333x0 (R3000A compatible 32‑bit RISC) @ 33.8688 MHz (30 MIPS)
    ⦁ System Control Coprocessor (Inside CPU)
    ⦁ SCU (32-bit Saturn Control Unit)​
    ⦁ GPU:
    ⦁ Sega-Sony GPU
    ⦁ Vector math unit (in main CPU) @ 66 MIPS
    ⦁ SCU DSP (Inside SCU (32‑bit Saturn Control Unit)​
    ⦁ Audio:
    ⦁ Sony SPU (Sound Processing Unit)
    ⦁ Stereo audio, with:
    ⦁ 24 ADPCM channels on SPU
    ⦁ 16‑bit audio and 44.1 kHz sampling rate on all 24 ADPCM channels
    ⦁ 1 streaming CD-DA channel (16‑bit PCM, 44.1 kHz)​
    ⦁ Memory:
    • 4.5 MB RAM
    • 2 MB SDRAM
    • 1.5 MB VRAM (512 KB sprite/texture cache, 512 KB frame buffers, 512 KB backgrounds)
    • 1 MB DRAM (512 KB sound, 512 KB CD-ROM sub-system buffer data cache)

    While cartridges were planned to be used alongside CD-ROMs, the primary intention was for a limited use of them as a whole, and in fact the primary use of the Saturn's cartridge slot would ultimately become external 'memory card' acessories. Speaking of which, the design of the Saturn was highly influenced by previous Sega hardware, a bit of a rectangular box style design, coloured either black or white, with two controller ports in the front, both the cartridge slot & CD-ROM drive on the top, and all of the other plug-ins located on the back.

    Plans for the Saturn - among other then upcoming features - to connect to the slowly growing internet were also in development at the time as well, though wouldn't be realized immediately.
    In addition was the memory system - the Saturn was ultimately to feature both an internal memory system via battery built into the back of the system as well as a Sony-developed external memory card system. Sega of Japan had to be convinced that it was best a memory card be packaged with the system.

    "I was as a whole very impressed with it as it came along" Kalinske recounted in an interview with Sega Retro, 2016, "It was a little rough around the edges and definitely a stressful process, moreso than I anticipated, but once all of the hardware was pretty much set I was confident in the Saturn's ability to compete against it's upcoming rivals. There were a few things that I still missed out on though" he revealed, "Not long after I actually had the Sony deal made solid and we had the specs sorted out, I had this meeting with Jim Clark -founder of Silicon Graphics, and to put a long story short, he showed me what he and his guys had been working on. I thought it would've gone great for the Saturn and presented it, but the board turned it down pretty quickly. According to them, it was too expensive, not enough stock would be ready, and the Saturn's memory capacity would be a problem, and it could've also forced us to release a fair bit later. The Board really didn't want Atari or 3DO to get too much of a head start and they really wanted one up on Nintendo, who were of course, who Jim turned to after we had to turn them down as we found out in the summer. I was a little put down, but still, we had the Sony deal, and luckily that's all the Saturn needed."

    While the Saturn was slowly coming together, the first public viewing of it occured during the Winter 1994 CES in January of 1994, though as it was still in development it was not in the focus of Sega's showing for the show. In fact, for the most part it (still reffered to as "Project Saturn") was shown in a marketing loop with Mega Drive titles. None of it's hardware details were mentioned, only a rolling demo of five potential Saturn games - Virtua Fighters, Daytona GP, Virtua Soccer, "action game" (Clockwork Knight) and "3D Shooting Game" (Panzer Dragoon). Most of Sega's efforts were focused on upcoming Mega CD releases, some of which were the continued products of Sony Imagesoft.

    "The Sega Mega CD didn't really take off until the 1993-1995 seasons", remarked Stephen 'Steve' Race, in a 2006 interview with Gamespot, "Mostly thanks to us having no real choice but to try our hardest to promote the thing until the Saturn arrived. Luckily we did get some decent, playable software for it. I'm a bit surprised at how well some of it's content did sell in all honesty. Most of what Imagesoft and Digital Pictures produced were the full motion video stuff of course, but I do recall that we did recieve some, interesting, third party releases during this period too."

    "A lot of the Mega CD's library really aren't anything to write home about" wrote a journalist for Eurogamer in 2001, "A lot of the games that Imagesoft and Digital Pictures worked on were basically your typical run of the mill full motion video stuff, nothing that was really influential on the industry. While they aren't really the worst games in the world and were very interesting when they first released, in the end it really just proved to be a fad that faded pretty quickly as the 3D era started to kick off. Night Trap is about the only one that really comes to mind, though I do think some others sold surprisingly well, even if they as a whole didn't really sell very remarkably all things considered. I personally think that the best games to play on the Mega CD are the Sonic related ones, which funny enough don't even use the Full Motion Video gimmick at all. Though there are some hidden gems and guilty pleasures for it as well. As a whole though I do think that Sega made the right move in focusing on developing the Saturn and keeping things at just the Mega Drive and the Mega CD, there really wouldn't have been enough time for much else. I actually enjoyed a little bit of the Mega CD games that came out at the time too, though I will admit, I have not played them in a while."

    "I remember being told that Nakayama-san and the board in Japan had given Sony's practically infant age development studio permission to work on a Sonic game" Yuji Naka told Sega Retro in 2006, "I had mixed feelings on the idea, it occurred around the same time that I had begun work on Sonic the Hedgehog 3 in America. However, like Nakayama-san, I was open to seeing what Sony was capable of doing with my creation using the Sega CD hardware. I was grateful that they allowed me to see what they had created and submitted to Sega's publishing rather than their own. I will admit that I actually quite enjoyed their finished project, it was an interesting idea that they had came up with. Of course, most of Sony's development teams were focused on the Saturn, and in fact to my knowledge their Sonic ports and games for the CD Add-on were in many ways to gain approval from Sega to help with the ongoing Sonic project for the Saturn."
    Released early in 1994, specifically February 2, Sonic the Hedgehog was the latest of the main title Sonic games released for the Mega Drive - and was one of the Genesis' definitive games for the year. It introduced the new character Knuckles the Echidna alongside Sonic, Robotnik & Tails (just as CD had introduced Amy & Metal Sonic), and even became rumored to have had Michael Jackson - who had previously worked with Sega for the game 'Moonwalker' - work on elements of the music for it. Regardless, the game was a commercial success upon it's release, though due to Sega's refusal to delay the game it had to be split into two, with Sonic Team - who had been working in the headquarters of Sega of America and thus where Kalinske was working at during the time - working on getting the second half of the game ready for the later months of the year.
    It is perhaps unfortunate for Sony and Digital Pictures' games that Sega admittedly marketed Sonic the Hedgehog 3 much more than it did most of their upcoming Mega CD titles at the time - largely due to a slowing down of Mega CD sales. In addition, competition from Nintendo was brewing, and Kalinske felt the pressure of Nakayama and board at quite nearly every day of work. Despite that, he was confident in the Saturn's ability, and sure that they could do without Yamaha and Silicon Graphics so long as the Sony partnership remained strong enough to not fall apart. While it seemed many times that it was on the brink of destruction, he knew the one thing Sega of Japan would hate more than working with Sony, was the idea of delaying the Saturn and having to start all over on it. Quite in fact that was almost certainly what kept the partnership from collapsing in the first place.

    Things were about to change quite suddenly in the industry as 1993 drew to a close, however. As Sega was preparing the Sega Saturn for it's winter 1994 release in Japan, the ESRB came into existence - with it's roots not only in 1993 senatorial meetings but also from an increasing amount of political controversy and advocacy even prior. In all, three games in general sparked more controversy than any others - Mortal Kombat, Night Trap, and Lethal Enforcers. Of all three, Mortal Kombat would become the most well known of the three and one of gaming's more cherished franchises - in large part thanks to a $10 million 1993 marketing campaign for 'Mortal Monday', though the latter two maintained their own followings as well. The point was however that these games were more violent than advocates of censorship in video games found comfort with.

    In addition, it did not help Sega that it's version of the home console Mortal Kombat was notably more graphic than the SNES counterpart, allowing a code to be put in to have blood in the battles and keeping much of the gruesome finishing moves. However, this was commercially beneficial, as the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive version outsold the SNES version largely due to Nintendo's censorship of the game.

    Night Trap (1992), the cult classic Sega CD title, was not as successful as Mortal Kombat - naturally - though was just as controversial - largely due to a perceived violence against woman by parents and politicans at the time.

    Lethal Enforcers (1992) was mostly a controversy for being a classic arcade style shooting game, that used digitized images of people rather than cartoon style images or sprites. Ironically enough, at the time of the controversy the game was not even released yet - though ads for the game's home console release (Sega CD, Genesis and SNES version planned for 1993 through 1994) featured Konami's own Justifier Gun, caught the US Government's attention.

    Namely, Senator Joe Liberman.

    Sega's response to the initial late 1993 ultimatum to introduce a rating system was met - with Sega of America establishing the Independent Rating Council. It sported three figures - GA for General Audiences, MA-13 for children 13+ with parental supervision, and MA-17 for mature audiences only. However, many argued that this rating system was inadequate at best and useless at worst. Nintendo's representatives even argued it was "throwing up smokescreens" and anything but protecting parents & their children.
    In the widely documented congressional hearing in late 1993 featuring both advocates and industry leaders, the three games in question among other things were put on the stand - so to speak and widely criticized for violence, masogny, and what effects it could have on the behavior of children. Representing Nintendo for the debate was Howard Lincoln, while representing Sega was Bill White. Lincoln, very well experienced in legal issues featuring Nintendo before, presented a strong defense of Nintendo - bringing up it's strict guidelines when it comes to content on it's systems while also poking at Sega's vague rating as well as the fact they only introduced them after they were getting 'heat' for it. Bill White did his best to defend Sega, though noted that he was already in the hot seat. Sega's rating system was highly criticized for the way it was named, and even Howard Lincoln joined in when White asserted how the industry was taking in more adult consumers and was changing to encompass all ages. Most unfortunately for Sega, Bill also made a slip of the tongue when he brought up Nintendo's super scope, saying Sega produced it instead of Nintendo. Much to Sega and white's frustration, Liberman even referred to Nintendo as a "damn sight better than the competition".

    One of the immediate effects this infamous hearing had was the media attention it gave the games in question - much of their violent segments became common knowledge. Within the following weeks, Night Trap was pulled from Toys 'R' Us and FAO Schwartz followed suite and later pulled from the market entirely - much to the creator's dismay. Lethal Enforcers would see release in computer software stores, but not toy stores.

    In February of 1994, the government created a 5-member commission appointed by the US President to help the industry to create a rating system. The industry had a deadline of one year.
    "I'm really amazed that Nintedo would so irresponsibly drag retailers and the entire industry through the mud in their efforts to slow our momentum." - Tom Kalinske during a 1994 press release after it came out that Nintendo supplied congress with footage Night Trap from before the December hearing.

    Nintendo however, had no shame in the backlash that Sega was receiving.

    "Dear Tom, Roses are red, violets are blue. So you had a bad day, boo-hoo-hoo-hoo. All my best, Howard." - Howard Lincoln, in his own press release responding to Kalinske.

    However, despite their shared dislike of each other, the great rival corporations had distaste for Government invervention as well. As such it was during the congressional hearings of March 1994 announced by Jack Heistand of the Independent Ratings Council, that Sega, Nintendo, Atari, Akklaim, Electronic Arts, Philips & The 3DO Company had agreed to comply to a ratings system - one that would also appear in ads and marketing material, as well as commit to a education campaign for retailers & consumers,as well as a system independent of the companies themselves. However, this system would not regulate the games themselves but only provide information about them, and Heistand made it clear that going back to rate all previously released titles was just impractical. The rating system would have been for nothing however, had retailers such as Walmart and Toys 'R' Us, to name just a few, stated that they would only accept & sell games that had gone through the rating system.

    "As us at Nintendo, them at Sega and all these other companies, practically everybody, came together" Howard Lincoln recalled in a 2001 interview with IGN, "It really was helpful to the cause of finding a resolution to this. Of course, Sega had the audacity to suggest that we use their rating system even after it'd already been called out for how ineffective, borderline deceptive and ridiculous it was even by people outside of the industry! There was no way anyone at Nintendo would have gone with using a Sega rating system on a Nintendo game! That would be like if we put Sonic's face on the cover of a Super Mario game. Luckily, Sega eventually agreed with everyone else on creating an entirely new and independent rating system."

    In September of 1994, the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) was finally established after the agreements made by the United States congress and the leaders of the gaming industry. Games were being rated just in time for the 1994 Holiday Shopping season.

    "1993 and 1994 are hands down one of the most important years in gaming in my opinion. So much change was happening, newcomers entering, veterans returning, the rating system being formed, so many hit games coming out. It was amazing, truly amazing." -
    For Sega of Japan and Sony as a whole, the ratings debate meant nothing for them - for Nakayama and the board it was in Kalinske's hands. Though they did have a slight concern about the public's perception of Sega, in the end it proved to be nothing to worry about. The public's purchasing of Sega games was not too immensely harmed by the hearings and many of the games in question recieved more attention and interest as a result.

    For the most part, Sega of Japan focused their attention on the development of the Saturn alongside Sony, which by the end of the ratings debacle and the creation of the ESRB was gearing up for it's holiday season release in Japan.
    For software, Sega's efforts were focused entirely on the Mega Drive (Genesis) and the Mega CD. Genesis/Mega Drive sales were doing better than CD sales, as was the status quo. They remained only contested by Atari in Europe, were ruling the market in Brazil, and were gaining traction in America. However, the prize for Sega of Japan was to remove Nintendo's dominance over the home country.

    "The board of Sega at the time before the Saturn was really only worried about one thing - not game ratings, not even how well they were doing elsewhere. What they wanted was a system that would sell well in Japan. I helped give it to them, and then some." - Ken Kutaragi, 2017 interview with Sega Retro.

    In the realm of software, games continued being released through the year for both the Genesis/Mega Drive and it's CD add-on unit.

    Sonic & Knuckles finally arrived to the markets in October of 1994, completing the Saga of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and allowing players to complete the game experience via sega's "Lock-on Technology".

    After many months of internal disputes, failed and lost deal attempts, hardware development, hardware revisions, court hearings in America over video game ratings, Sega of Japan's efforts to create a system that would satisfy all of their standards and desires had finally seemed to pay off - the Saturn was finally ready for it's Holiday Season 1994 Japanese launch. However, even as the time neared, it took a long time for an actual date to be agreed upon.

    "When that day came, it was the moment of truth" said Hideki Sato in a March 2001 interview with Electronic Gaming Monthly, "Would the Saturn be the success Sega had been waiting for? Would it prove Sega's thoughts of Sony wrong? Would it be enough to put Nintendo in it's place? Once the time had come to finally launch the our pet project, it was all up to chance, so to speak."

    On it's Japanese launch in November-December of 1994,the Sega-Sony Saturn sold out with it's 200,000 units due to Virtua Fighter alone, and by the end of 1994 sold an impressive 600,000 units - looking up to be Sega's largest commercial success ever in Japan at the time.

    "According to my contacts from within Sega, the board of directors and Nakayama-san himself nearly fainted when they saw the sales charts for the Saturn" Kutaragi proudly said in an interview with Dengeki Saturn, translated, "I don't know how true that was, but how satisfying it would have been to see the looks on their faces. We proved to them that we knew what we were doing, and we helped them overcome Nintendo in the homeland. We never had much resistance from Sega of Japan beyond that point."

    When the Sega-Sony Saturn (often just called "the Saturn") came out in Japan, it had something of a snowball effect that was hardly showing any signs of losing his momentum. With Sony's assistance, resources and determination, third party developers were showing interest in the Saturn and the media was covering it immensely, helping the increase hype for the system. Europe and Brazil's gamers were more than ready for the system, and those loyal to Sega in America were comparably insatiable for it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
  6. Threadmarks: Sega vs Namco [1994]

    EternalMadness1997 Oh Lawdy Lawdy Lawd

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    NAMCO ANNOUNCES NO PLANS TO RELEASE ANY SOFTWARE FOR SATURN
    December 10, 1994

    In a press conference in Tokyo today, Masaya Nakamura, founder of Namco who's leadership saw rise to Pac-man, announced that there are currently no plans to release any ports of it's systems to the Sega-Sony Saturn whether it be in Japan or in any region it is planned to be released in.

    "We here at Namco are pleased that our games remain popular in the arcades, and we do acknowledge the sudden popularity of the Saturn here in Japan" he said as he addressed the Japanese public, "But there are no plans in the forseeable future for any variation of Namco software to be released on any Sega or Sony platform. As for whether or not ports will be available on another home console will depend on how viable it will be for our software to work with the hardware. In addition, this goes not only for Japan, but also in turn for all other regions of the world unless said otherwise."

    This announcement comes as a shock to the international gaming industry, as this all but promises not only no Namco titles on the Saturn, which just launched in Japan last week, but also potentially no Namco games on any modern home console system. Nakamura did however, assure that Namco titles would continue to be developed and realeased for the arcades, and assured concerned consumers that Namco titles are likely to 'eventually' return to the home console market.

    "We assure the public that this is not us saying that we are no longer going to be providing the services of games. Of course we would never announce something like that. We will continue producing games in general for many years to come, just not on any of the currently released modern hardware systems. This does not apply to the Super Famicom, we do have some things currently under development for that system. Should one be released in the near future, perhaps from Nintendo, 3DO or even Atari, or perhaps another entity entirely, you will yet again see Namco titles on home console systems."

    When asked if this meant Namco would be creating it's own brand of home console systems, Nakamura remarked:

    "There are currently no plans for Namco to create any hardware outside of it's arcade cabinets."

    SEGA RESPONDS TO NAMCO'S LACK OF SUPPORT

    December 12, 1994

    Today, in Tokyo, President of Sega Japan Hayao Nakayama has released a press release in response to Namco's announcement two days ago that they would not be supporting software releases on the Sega-Sony Saturn. The Saturn, being currently one of Japan's most popular gaming platforms, just recently launched to the market on November 30 and quickly became a major success in it's first full month on the market - Virtua Fighter in particular catching on in Japan. The company's leader had this to say:

    "It is not surprising to Sega that Namco would refuse support - they have always been, for lack of a better word, jealous of our position in the industry as of late. We will do fine with or without Namco, as we have largely done so in the past. Rather, it is Namco who need us. If they should ever be willing to change their opinion on the subject, I will gladly allow them to have all the software they want on the Saturn. But if it is their decision to not participate, then so be it. But how petty it is, might I add, to make such a large scene of this just two weeks after the system launched, not even giving it a chance to to be a month old before saying no to it."
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
  7. Nivek Resident Videogame Expert

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    Well nice updates, we got the info of the system and the launch of it, seems will get a nice release and the fun is to start.

    Yeah the Namco Sega rivalty, wonder what will be of Namco...
     
  8. EternalMadness1997 Oh Lawdy Lawdy Lawd

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    Yep! Most of these posts had been worked on over the course of Tuesday and yesterday. Was hoping to post yesterday, but of course the site was down. Luckily that does mean everyone gets treated to a double post, so it's not all bad. More to come soon!

    Yeah, Namco's gonna fare different than in OTL, is all I'm gonna say for now.
     
  9. Unknown Member

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    Are you going to focus on the effects on pop culture in general, ala Player Two Start?
     
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  10. EternalMadness1997 Oh Lawdy Lawdy Lawd

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    I can try, I kind of mentioned one here [Virtua Fighter catching on instead of Tekken, and more to come], but I'm still working that part out.

    I'm definitely open to ideas, basically.
     
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  11. Unknown Member

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    If you need ideas, PM @RySenkari, @Nivek, or any of the frequent contributors to the Player Two Start and Massively Multiplayer threads...
     
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  12. EternalMadness1997 Oh Lawdy Lawdy Lawd

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    Thanks! I actually have been reading those threads/timelines ,I need to keep going on Two Player Start though. Most of Gaming Pop Culture in TSG takes a while to really change mostly cuz of the Saturn's release date and the Sega CD being, well, the Sega CD. It's going to be in the upcoming posts that gaming culture changes enough to warrant really being focused on, I think. Considering the next post is going to be about a certain Sonic game that got infamously cancelled IOTL. I will mention the Virtua Fighter thing a bit more, as with other Sega IPs. But it all really begins later on in the future, really. Mostly because, well, in their TL the SNES CD came out earlier than 1994 I think, 1992 unless I remember wrong, whereas here the Saturn has to wait until 1994.

    So don't worry, the changes will start being apparent now/soon. I may have a post dedicated to them soon and I may (or may not, if I feel it's too clunky) go into detail about the ATTL games I made.
     
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  13. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

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    Way too much RAM. Global RAM prices began dropping in 1997 and CD-ROM drives were expensive (aka the main reason N64 was price competitive along with using the 350nm node). Basically look at the PSX specs and at best you can add half a meg—there’s a reason RAM carts were used for the PSX/SS/N64 (Sony/Sega 2 MB cart in 1996 to counter Nintendo would be sensible, or 4 MB in 1997–or both!). There’s also no way 800k consoles are launched in two months in 1994–the 200k opening would wipe out everything, think maybe 150-200k more sales a month until they can ramp up faster. OTL PSX hit 1 million in May 1995 Japan IIRC, your ATL version can’t beat that by much due to manufacturing limitations.

    Other than that a lovely timeline, I very much like the various corporate shenigans—poor Namco stuck in a feud with both major players lol. Nintendo having a sound chip is also a lovely ramification of Sega joining with Sony.
     
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  14. EternalMadness1997 Oh Lawdy Lawdy Lawd

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    Thanks for the tip! I was really confused when it came to it's specs, haha. I didn't know how to factor in the memory card as I was looking through their articles (both Sega Retro and Wikipedia - couldn't find a PS1 website - and some forums). I have a math disability too so yeah those numbers confused me so much haha. I'll fix that right up.

    And yeah, those sales I guess I was just combining the 500,000 of the saturn with the 300,000 of the PSX. Either way I do think it high selling is inevitable. Again, I am terrible at math so...yeah. Don't be surprised if I continue messing up when it comes to the numbers side of things XD The Saturn in this timeline has virtually no real competition in Japan at all.

    Would turning that 800,000 into 500,000 be better? Basically the Sega Saturn keeps it's same sales and just keeps momentum. I know the Saturn did sell a lot on it's JP launch according to most sources, and that amount was kept the same here (the first number given).
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
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  15. Nivek Resident Videogame Expert

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  16. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

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    What I’d do is straight up copy the PSX memory but like the day after Nintendo announces the N64 launch roll out a 4 MB RAM cart (plus say a second controller/cart bundle & cart/game bundle) with some flagship game—almost assuredly a 2D fighting game as those suckers were a huge impetus for OTL RAM carts

    You can always keep it a little vague—sold out through the end of the year with half a million sold, hits the million console milestone by May kinda thing :). Launch numbers are dependent on: how many are ordered, how many can be made, how many more could be made by paying way more for them. I think Sega would reasonably expect to sell half a million first couple months much like the numbers both Sony and Sega did IOTL. Basically you can start adding Saturn sales to the PSX by the second half of 1995 as Sony/Sega tamp hard based on success.

    Are you looking at the specs they had or the just edited version? Previous version had like 10 MB RAM.
     
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  17. Nivek Resident Videogame Expert

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    As say above that was Saturn otl ram and Sony did cheaped on ram otl for some weird reason
     
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  18. EternalMadness1997 Oh Lawdy Lawdy Lawd

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    I went back and edited it just now, I kept the sales as the same, 500k/half a million (same number, basically) and thanks for the tip on the future sales too.

    And I changed the RAM/Memory too to what you said, nice tips for the battle with the N64 too! I like it.
     
  19. Nivek Resident Videogame Expert

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    Keep as OTL or run both virtual fighter might be imposible, the same with Panzer dragoon
     
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  20. EternalMadness1997 Oh Lawdy Lawdy Lawd

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    Hm, then I should change it back, then? I'll keep it 4.MB I suppose.
    I'm so confused lol.
     
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